Of all the different types of footwear, trainers are definitely the ones that endure the most - so to keep them looking their best, check out our definitive guide on how to properly clean your trainers, and keep them clean.
Long gone are the days when trainers were solely used for sports activities and gym exercises. Nowadays, they can be just as fashionable as a standard pair of loafers if they’re teamed up with an appropriate outfit. For example, Converse would go really well with a short sleeved shirt and skinny jeans.
Whether you have a dozen pairs of branded sneakers or just your one go-to pair, it’s important to keep them in prime condition. Our temperamental British climate, muddy puddles and dirty pavements makes this sound like a virtually impossible task but, surprisingly, it isn’t. Regular cleaning is key in keeping your trainers looking sparkling. However, what’s even more important is knowing how to clean them in the correct way.
Trainers come in various styles and materials and each material needs to be looked after in a different way. Trainers can be constructed from a range of materials, but the three most common are:
Generally speaking, the most popular material is leather (or rather synthetic leather) as it’s the most hard-wearing and easiest to clean compared to other materials. But whatever materials your trainers are made from, follow our simple guide on how to effectively clean your trainers.
How to Clean Trainers
As we’ve previously mentioned, regularly cleaning your trainers is vital. The longer you leave the stains, the harder it is to remove them. Especially water-based stains as they quickly dry into the fabric or material. You don’t have to give it a thorough clean all the time (we’ll look at this in more detail in a moment), a simple wipe with a damp cloth will do. Or even better, use a baby wipe.
Say you’re walking in the park and get a bit of mud on your trainers, or you’re eating lunch and you accidentally spill a bit of food that lands on your trainer, you can easily mop it off with a baby wipe. However, if you want to do it properly, then make sure you take a look at the Crep Protect video below. These guys make some of the best trainer protection products on the market and can bring even the dirtiest of shoes back to life.
Another useful item to carry around is a pencil with an eraser on top. That's right, a pencil. Not only are they great for jotting down notes, it turns out they’re pretty good at wiping away scratches and scuffs. All you have to do is rub the eraser over any marks on the rubbery part of the shoe, the same way you’d rub out a mistake on a bit of paper, and voila!
How To Clean Canvas Trainers
Canvas or fabric type trainers, such as Converse and Vans. are especially popular with guys who have a preppy style. These kinds of trainers successfully merge fashion and function and are just what you need if you want to go for a smart, cool look. However, it’s not a cool look if it’s been attacked by a dirty, muddy puddle or stepped on by some clumsy school kid. So how do you clean them. Tap the soles of the trainers together to remove any excess dirt or mud.
Tap the soles of the trainers together to remove any excess dirt or mud.
- Remove the laces (these should be washed separately. More on this later).
- Fill the sink or a small bucket with a little warm water and add a drop of laundry detergent. Pop your trainers in.
- Get an old toothbrush and gently scrub the stains.
- Take the trainers out of the water and run them under cold water to remove the soap.
- Place the trainers on a towel and allow them to dry naturally.
Below is a video that explains these steps in more detail. It also mentions adding baking powder inside the trainers to neutralise odours.
How To Clean Leather Trainers
Leather (or synthetic leather) trainers are perhaps the most popular and trustworthy footwear in your shoe collection. White trainers are especially popular these days. They’re great for any social situation: day trips in the city, hanging out with mates down the pub or just walking around the block. They’re also very comfortable and will go with many different outfits.
But what do you do when you accidentally step into something nasty, or when someone steps on your foot and leaves a whole mess of dirt marks? Follow these simple steps:
- Wipe or tap any bits of loose dirt off.
- Dampen the outside of your trainers with a cloth or paper towel.
- Dab a little toothpaste onto your trainers, especially over tough stains and rub it in with your fingers. (Toothpaste is actually a really effective cleaner on leather!)
- Using an old toothbrush, scrub the stains or dirt away.
- After you’ve finished, wipe your trainers with a wet cloth or paper towel, ensuring the dirt and toothpaste have been removed.
- Get a dry cloth or paper towel and dry them a little. Then allow them to dry naturally.
Check out this video for more tips and suggestions.
How To Clean Suede Trainers
Suede or similar types of trainers have become popular over the years. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of suede on their feet? However, it does come with a drawback. They can be difficult to clean, and after a downpour or a step in the puddle, it will leave watermarks. Because suede is made up of softer grains, it’s more vulnerable to the elements compared to other materials.
Suede trainers are best kept for the summer months, but knowing how unpredictable the British weather is, it won’t be possible to avoid contact with water. However it’s better to be safe than sorry, so before you go out, spray on some suede protector. These are easy to get hold of, and will limit or prevent damage caused by moisture. For more tips, check out this video.
How to Dry Your Trainers
There are a couple of specific reasons why you need to let your trainers dry naturally and away from sunlight once you’ve cleaned them. One reason is that their colours are prone to fading. If you leave them in the Sun, the light and heat of the Sun rays will eventually have an effect on the colour of the trainers. So keep them somewhere warm and dry - maybe near a windowsill or by an air conditioning unit.
Another reason to let them dry naturally is so that they’re not exposed to further wear and tear. Do not put them in a tumble dryer. It might sound like a good idea in order to speed up the drying process, but the heat will put stress on the material or fabric. If you want them to dry a little faster, try stuffing old newspapers in the trainers as this will quickly absorb any excess water.
Laces should dry naturally too. It may take several hours for them to dry completely, but it’s essential that you do it this way because they will keep their shape. If you put them in a tumble drier, it can loosen the elastic fibres or structures, and ultimately damage the aglets and may cause the laces to shrink. So leave them to dry fully on a dry towel or hang them on the washing line.
How To Clean Laces
Laces may be attached to the trainers, but it’s important that they should be removed and washed separately. If you have white laces, you’ll know they’re usually the first thing to show the dirt and that’s not a good thing! These days, laces are made from synthetic fibres such as nylon, polyester and elastics so they’re easy to clean.
Find a bowl, fill it with a little water, a drop of washing up liquid (or laundry detergent) and our trusty old toothbrush. Just remove the laces from the trainers, dip the toothbrush into the soapy mixture and gently scrub the laces. If the stains are especially tough, brush off any loose dirt with the toothbrush and then soak the laces in soapy water for a while. Remove them afterwards and then scrub out the stains with the toothbrush. For lighter stains, just pop them into a shirt trouser pocket and put them in the washing machine.
How To Clean Your Trainers
- For canvas trainers, wash them in warm water with just a drop of laundry detergent. Gently scrub the stains with a toothbrush and rinse.
- For leather trainers, dampen them with a cloth or paper towel. Dab a little toothpaste on any soiled spots and scrub them away with a toothbrush.
- For suede trainers, get a suede brush and gently work out the dirt over the nap. For tougher marks, try a pencil eraser to rub the scuff out or apply suede cleaning solution.
- To clean laces and insoles, wash them in warm water with laundry detergent and scrub with your trusty toothbrush.
- Once clean, allow the trainers, laces, and insoles to dry naturally and away from direct sunlight.
On That Note
There you have it, an in-depth guide on how to clean your trainers effectively and hopefully without too much hassle. Trainers are footwear that can be worn in all seasons whether you wear them regularly or not, and will need to be looked after. Keep these tips and suggestions in mind for when you next clean your hard-working trainers.